Mike Woodson and the New York Knicks front office have made their final cuts today, bringing the roster from 20 to 15. The last three spots were grabbed by Toure’ Murry (I talked a little bit about why he deserves the spot here), Cole Aldrich and Chris Smith.
Murry has impressed the Knicks’ coaching staff over the preseason with his strong defensive play, consistent hustle and improving point guard play on offense. It’s no major surprise that he made the roster and there’s no doubt Woodson feels like he has a lot of potential. He likely won’t play much unless one of the point guards ahead of him gets hurt, but that’s a definite possibility.
Among the big men vying for a roster spot, Aldrich was the best suited to play center and his game is the most similar to Tyson Chandler‘s. While he clearly lacks Chandler’s athleticism and offensive fortitude, Aldrich is a useful shot-blocker who can provide good enough defense and rebounding off the bench. His inclusion is no major surprise either, given his size and skill-set.
The final spot is quite a bit more puzzling. Chris Smith has yet to prove that he can compete at the NBA level and has done next to nothing to stand out either in the Summer Leauge or in the preseason. It’s hard not to think this might be a case of nepotism, and Woodson has even admitted that him being J.R. Smith’s brother would have some impact on the decision. Smith’s contract becomes guaranteed on the October 29, and there’s still the odd chance that they may wait until after that deadline to cut him so he can go home with a nice paycheck, opening up a roster spot for a more useful player. Still, it’s entirely possible that they could keep him around for the entire season.
The biggest surprise here has been cutting Jeremy Tyler, who had appeared to have locked up a roster spot. His foot injury has kept him from preseason play, but the Knicks could use another backup big and Woodson seems to like him. If nobody else signs him, I wouldn’t be surprised to see him in orange and blue later in the season after his injury has healed.